Do you think the end justifies the means? Or is it the other way around? Is it the means that justify the end? I’m of the latter opinion, but like everything else, it depends. It depends on your means of choice and what results await you. It depends on your goals for taking the journey and emerging at the other end.
Not long ago I was listening to an episode of Shawn Blanc’s podcast, The Weekly Briefly. The episode in questions was, Delight in the Journey. Shawn talked about defining success for yourself, particularly creative success, but other forms, like monetary success, were part of the discussion.
To define success you need to identify what’s most important to you and which version of success you’re after. Is the main goal money? Or like Shawn are you more interested in creating work you can be proud of and that contributes something back to the world.
Shawn recalled the following quote a few times.
We don’t make movies so we can make more money. we make more money so we can make more movies
mdash; Walt Disney
The idea is that for Disney the work isn’t for the sake of making money. It’s the other way around and money exists as the means to an end goal of producing work. The business model supports the creative work.
The Journey and the Results
I want to pick up the topic and talk about the means and the end, the journey and the result. I think if you can enjoy the journey, regardless of how the end turns out, you’ll be happy. The ideal is to enjoy the journey and achieve the results you want, but the journey brings more happiness than the results.
There’s a single point of success or failure in the results. You either succeed or you don’t. The journey contains many more ways to succeed or fail. The journey provides more opportunities for many things.
Enjoying the journey doesn’t mean you have to give up the result. Again the idea is to experience the journey and have a successful result in the end. The journey though, is where you acquire experience and knowledge. It’s where you meet people both good and bad, and where you grow as a person. You can only get these things in the journey. They aren’t waiting at the end.
I think this is true for everyone, but it’s especially true when your work is creative work. Creativity thrives in the journey and not in the result. Creative results can only be found in the journey.
You’re creative. Maybe you design or you develop. Maybe you write front end code. Maybe you’re a writer or photographer. You have to exercise your creative muscles. The exercise is in the doing. It’s along the journey.
It’s not just about being creative. All you have is this moment. This very one. The past is gone and the future isn’t here. All you have is this very moment. You have to be present in the moment to enjoy the moment and learn from it.
I used to spend many moments thinking about why things in the past caused me not to enjoy moments in the present. I used to spend many moments thinking about the best way to live for future moments. You can’t really do either in the present. You can only be there to experience it.
The Journey Shapes My Business and Me
I continue to evolve my business based on the interests I pick up on the journey. I’ve shifted gears a few times. I became a freelancer because it felt right where the corporate world didn’t. I mean that for me and not in general. I didn’t go into business because I already knew how to run a business. I learned along the way. I learn to run a business during the ongoing journey of running a business
I chose web design because I was spending my free time after work learning to develop sites and practicing building them. I marketed myself mainly through writing because I like to write. I’ve evolved my service, my clients, and most every other aspect of my business based on things not specifically about money. Mostly it’s been what allows me to do the work I want to do.
As a company, Apple believes you focus on designing great products and the rest will follow. I believe we’re all good at some things and following a path toward them lets you experience many related things that can help you do it better. Being interested helps you follow the path when following becomes difficult. Create truly great products and they will sell.
Where is Your Focus?
You grow during the journey. Not at the start or the end, but during the journey itself. It’s where you acquire new skills, knowledge, and experiences.
If you focus on the result, one goal becomes getting to that result as quickly as possible and in as straight a line as possible. Creativity needs to explore. It needs the journey, because only the journey lets you discover the quality to be found in the exploration.
Are you in it for the money or for the work? It’s up to you and there’s nothing wrong with either choice. Your monetary result could be the starting point for something that contributes greatly to the world. It’s a rational end result and you may delight in the journey of making money.
If your focus is on the work and your passion for the work and the experiences you gain doing the work, then your focus is on the journey. This is the better focus if you want to produce truly great and meaningful creative work.
I think if you do good work, the money will follow. It’s why I always suggest following your passion into business. If your goal is the money, the work can only follow so far. You’ll never get as good as the work if your focus is the end result. You’ll miss too many chances to experience and explore along the way.
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